Planning Commission Meeting Minutes 2.24.22



Minutes of Meeting – Thursday February 24, 2022

Members Present: Chairman Charles Moore, John Williams, Chris Heins, Tom Williams, Garret Siegel, Sabastian Massey (Alt.), Jessica Roberts (LUA), and Nick Zaiac (TA).

Attendance Formats: Town Hall, Zoom Video Conferencing or Phone

Other Attendees:  Cat Bryars (BCRC), Callie Fishburn (BCRC)

  1. The meeting was called to order at 7:00 pm by Charles Moore.
  • A motion to approve the December meeting minutes was made by Garret Siegel, seconded by Charles Moore. Motion carried.
  1. There was no old Business.

Town Plan Update

  1. Callie Fishburn introduced herself to the planning commission as the new Regional Planner for BCRC and she will assist with the revised Town Plan and Bylaws.
  • Cat Bryars presented the Consultation Review which is BCRC’s formulated review process for updating Town Plans. With regard to how well the current town plan is working for Arlington, it was generally agreed the consistency between the Bylaws and the Town Plan should be a major focus. Chris Heins stated that the Town Plan should be the justification for the Bylaws and we should look to that end during the updates. Adjustments can be made along the way to make them consistent. John Williams remembered that the last revision to the Town Plan did not include updated census data because it was not available at that time. Cat Bryars explained that census data takes a long time to compile and it won’t be ready until next year, which will fit in with the current revisions.
  • Under Local Planning Needs:
  1. Training Needs of the municipality: Regarding Land Use Basics There is a  training workshop by Zoom on Thursday 04/22/2022 from 4:40 to 6:00 pm. Cat distributed a flier with the website and meeting ID as follows ( Meeting ID: 82181448644; or dial in +1 929 205 6099
  • Under Plan Implementation:
    • Local Permitting: We discussed the Bylaws and how they were working. It was generally agreed that there should be better consistency in the regulations and standards for site plans.
    • Non-regulatory implementation priorities: We outlined initiatives in conservation, investing in open space, and the use of Town owned property for affordable housing. Condemnation of bridges and securing funding for their reconstruction was also discussed.
  • Under RPC Programs:
    • We outlined RPC initiatives; Transportation Planning, Energy Planning, Natural Resources Planning, Municipal Planning, Solid Waste Planning.

Bylaws Update

  1. We then discussed the Bylaws issues checklist compiled by Land Use Administrator Jessica Roberts. Prior meetings between Cat Bryars, Jessica Roberts and Charles Moore were held on this subject. It was agreed that the most common concern was organization and clarity. The regulations are very confusing and need to be clarified.
  2. We discussed Short Term Rentals, Air B&B’s and Tourist Homes and whether they should be regulated. In general, regulations were not favorable, but it was also recognized that short term rentals take properties of the market, which could otherwise be available for affordable housing units. It was also noted that in the case of Air B&B’s, the state is considering a law that requires the owner to dwell on the property. The law being considered will probably be in force soon, probably before our Bylaw is updated. Taking that into consideration, we decided to table this issue until the state decides on the law.
  3. It was noted that Handicap regulations are not discussed in the Bylaws. Michael Murno suggested that this be addressed by making reference in the Bylaw to Federal ADA Regulations, and it was agreed to do so.
  4. There must be a better definition of FEMA zones as currently defined by letter designations, but no key as to their meaning. Regulations as to Recreational Vehicles located in flood area must be better defined. The Bylaws describe River Boundaries and Fluvial Erosion Hazard Areas (FEHA) as synonymous; in fact, they are different and regulation is difficult. Chris Heins Offered a history on FEHA as follows: When regulation of the FEHA was first proposed by the State through the BCRC, The APC had just spent over a year revising the Flood Hazard Regulations to meet State minimum requirements. Upon review of the FEHA maps generated at that time there were serious questions about their accuracy. Arlington has many properties impacted by flooding hazards. The APC decided it was unwise to add additional regulations on top of the new strict Flood Hazard Regulations putting the burden on landowners to dispute maps of dubious accuracy.  Because regulation on this topic is complicated, it was agreed to consult with John Broker Campbell at Vt. ANR about defining and regulating these boundaries.
  5. Next, we discussed updating existing regulations, such as outdoor wood boilers, telecommunication infrastructure, and ADU’s. Agricultural practices and what is controlled by the state and locally need to be clarified.
  6. Cat reported that the Town’s request for a high resolution zoning map has been answered; Cat has produced the map and it is available to be hung in the LUA’S office for residents to view.
  7. Next, we moved to the work plan schedule for revising the Bylaw. Phase I will involve cleaning up and reorganizing the current Bylaw to be more user friendly with a working draft completed in June 2022 and a public presentation by the end of July 2022. Phase II will focus on the “Village District” and include the presentation of the updated draft with a focus on Mixed Use Development, Affordable Housing and “Infill”. Infill is defined as building in between already densely developed settlements as opposed to “Greenfield Development”, better known as the rural area development. We discussed the Public Outreach Program and how it should be incorporated into the Bylaw. The program would announce the program to the public through press releases explaining to the towns people the importance of their participation in the program, and that this is an important step in the approval process. Include in the release an email address for questions and input from the public. Cat suggested a web page to incorporate a public questions and input feature. It was agreed that we should pursue both the news releases and the web page. Cat will begin setting up a web page and the town will see to the news releases at the appropriate time.
  8. We discussed the waste water project and its projected completion in June 2022 and ready for release in July; coincidently at the same time of the public presentation of the Bylaw. Chris Heins suggested that project include proposed growth areas within the defined districts in the Bylaw and that they be specific to the defined boundaries. Nick stated that the growth areas are defined. John Williams related his experience with fishing on the West Branch of the Ausable near Lake Placid in the Adirondacks. The Lake Placid sewer system overflows due to flooding contaminating a stream which fed into the West Branch of the Ausable just below the Olympic ski jumps.  The stream bed became green with algae which ruined the fishing. John wants to be certain that Arlington has factored flooding and its effects on the project so that the same thing does not happen here to the Battenkill. Nick assured that flooding and its effects has been taken into account. The project is a multipoint program with a number backup systems. The program is regional and does consider other towns and their capacities. For the Battenkill there is an unused capacity of approximately 300,000 gallons. This has been covered in the project. Garret Siegel wanted to know whether the waste water program has built in enough over-capacity to accommodate an increase in affordable housing units. Nick assured that it will be addressed.
  9. Regarding future meetings with Town Officials, Cat Bryars asked if it would be okay to meet with them as necessary to keep abreast of their initiatives. There was no objection.

Land Use Administrator’s Report for APC meeting for Feb. 24 2022


Michael Murno made a motion to adjourn, seconded by Charles Moore.  Motion carried.

Meeting was adjourned at 8:09 pm.  Our next meeting will be on Thursday March 24, 2022 at 7:00 pm.

Respectfully submitted Michael J. Murno

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